Anza-Borrego: Plant Guide To California Riding and Hiking Trail: Visitor Center to Culp Valley

This is a working list, about which we make no guarantees at all until we officially release it. Use at your own risk!

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

Highlights of This Trail
Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time
Botanical Trip Reports
The Plant Guide
Comments On Specific Species


This trail begins at the southeast corner of the Visitor Center parking lot. This trail has guides going in both directions; the other one begins in Culp Valley.

Fieldwork has only been done in December 2005 to February 2006, a severe drought year, and in December 2009, and so this guide is incomplete for most annuals and some perennials. The estimates of the abundance for the annuals and perennials in the guide might be severe underestimates of what would be found in February and March of a good rainfall year.

Without a car shuttle, most people will probably turn around near the halfway point at the 2600 foot saddle. Hence for each of the two guides, we do something that otherwise would seem peculiar. The estimate of the number of plants and number of locations for each species gives only the numbers appropriate to each guide before that saddle. After the saddle, it will give the numbers from the other guide. (This paragraph is probably way too confusing; most people can just ignore it or figure it out when they are on the trail.)

See also the introduction, pictures and maps in Flora of Culp Valley / Hellhole Canyon.

Highlights of This Trail

Number of Unique Taxa On This Trail

The following histogram gives the number of trails in our database that contain each taxon on this trail. We had 189 of our trails and floras in our database when this histogram was made; 51 of those trails, including this one, are in Anza-Borrego State Park. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found only on this list, among all of our trails and floras in our database.

Number of Trails
Containing A Taxon
Number Of Taxa
On This Trail
% of Taxa
On This Trail
Total Taxa121100%

We found 14 additional taxa not in the above table, since they have not been fully identified yet. The unidentified ones are marked with ?, sp or ssp in the id? column in the guide, and have no entries in the #all column.

The taxa that are unique to this trail, or found at most in just one or two other guides or floras, are:

# guides / florasName
1Menodora scoparia
1Galium angustifolium ssp. borregoense
2Chamaesyce arizonica
2Brickellia frutescens
3Ditaxis neomexicana
3Chamaesyce melanadenia
3Keckiella antirrhinoides var. microphylla

Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time

The following table gives the dates the trail up to the 2600 foot saddle was walked and taxa recorded. After each visit, the table gives the total number of taxa on the list and the breakdown of the taxa without positive identification. See Explanation of Plant Trail Guides to understand the symbols below.

Visit DateVisit ## taxa# "?"# "sp"# "~"# "ssp"

The fieldwork on 12/6/05 was only to mile 1.46. On 12/19/05, the fieldwork was to mile 1.57, adding 5 new species to the guide in the new portion.

There are two entries for 12/23/05, since the trail guide was extended from mile 1.57 to mile 2.22. The first entry gives the numbers only up to mile 2.22, so a comparison can be made with previous entries.

The trail guide was extended from mile 2.22 to mile 3.06 on 1/3/06, but no new species were found in the previously-covered portion of the trail.

We thank Paula Knoll for her assistance in the fieldwork on 12/19/05, and James Dillane for his assistance on 12/23/05.

Botanical Trip Reports

The Plant Guide

For a plant list of the species found here in traditional family order, see Flora of Culp Valley / Hellhole Canyon.

The mileages are derived from a GPS recording of this trail, but some sections were not accurately GPS'd. Mileages should be accurate to ~0.02 to 0.05 miles.

The upper part of this guide has not yet been updated from the 3 January 2010 work on the upper part of this trail.

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page: html (7 pages) or pdf Clickbook booklet (2 double-sided pages). (See printing instructions for an explanation of these options)

miles#idCommon NameScientific Name#here#all
0.00   Begin at signed trailhead on southeast corner of Visitor Center Parking Lot; elevation ~835 feet (255 m). Guide gives species abundance only to saddle at mile 3.06 for those found earlier than that point.
0.00b1 *Mediterranean schismusSchismus barbatus10 / 151
0.00b2 small-seeded spurgeChamaesyce polycarpa99 / 754
0.00b3sp Nemacladus sp.99 / 9 
0.00b4 *redstem filareeErodium cicutarium99 / 981
0.00r5 New Mexico ditaxisDitaxis neomexicana50 / 93
0.00l6 Gander's chollaOpuntia ganderi99 / 939
0.00b7 brittlebushEncelia farinosa99 / 952
0.00r  Sign: "Riding and Hiking Trail (ahead); No Dogs Past This Point"
0.00b8 indigo bushPsorothamnus schottii50 / 746
0.00b9 burroweedAmbrosia dumosa40 / 949
0.00l10 common phaceliaPhacelia distans99 / 937
0.00l  Check for id of the Cryptantha here
0.01l11 chinch-weedPectis papposa var. papposa40 / 95
0.01r12 Emory's rock-daisyPerityle emoryi20 / 928
0.01r13 desert dandelionMalacothrix glabrata5 / 217
0.02b14 small-flowered poppyEschscholzia minutiflora ssp. minutiflora10 / 215
0.02   Trail curves left
0.03r15 wishbone plantMirabilis bigelovii var. retrorsa30 / 927
0.03   Trail makes small curve right
0.04l16 *Asian mustardBrassica tournefortii20 / 943
0.04r17 chuparosaJusticia californica40 / 724
0.05b  (creosote bush, Larrea tridentata)
0.05r18sspwestern tansy-mustardDescurainia pinnata20 / 5 
0.05l  (wire-lettuce, Stephanomeria pauciflora var. pauciflora)
0.06   Trail curves right
0.06l19 cheesebushHymenoclea salsola var. salsola20 / 744
0.08r20 desert lavenderHyptis emoryi+50 / 744
0.08l21~California suncupCamissonia californica99 / 960
0.09   Cross small wash
0.10l22 Guadalupe cryptanthaCryptantha maritima99 / 915
0.10l23 desert thornappleDatura discolor5 / 59
0.11r  (California barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus)
0.13r24 desert twining snapdragonAntirrhinum filipes4 / 46
0.16r25 creosote bushLarrea tridentata40 / 753
0.32   Trail jogs left
0.37   Cross faint old road (or buried water pipe) heading toward the hills from the water tanks to left
0.37l  (teddy-bear cholla, Opuntia bigelovii)
0.43l26 chiaSalvia columbariae1 / 153
0.43l  Dead desert trumpet, Eriogonum inflatum
0.47r27 teddy-bear chollaOpuntia bigelovii30 / 533
0.48l  Dead ocotillo, Fouquieria splendens ssp. splendens next to trail; live one off-trail
0.50   Cross wash
0.54r28 wire-lettuceStephanomeria pauciflora var. pauciflora30 / 949
0.58l  (Engelmann's hedgehog cactus, Echinocereus engelmannii)
0.58b  Enter forest of teddy-bear cholla, Opuntia bigelovii
0.60r29 fringed amaranthAmaranthus fimbriatus40 / 511
0.66l30 desert agaveAgave deserti20 / 931
0.66l31 ocotilloFouquieria splendens ssp. splendens5 / 349
0.72   Jct. old road that is now a horse trail
0.78r32 desert trumpetEriogonum inflatum1 / 138
0.78   Cross small wash with 2 branches
0.82   Jct. main Hellhole Canyon Trail; elevation ~950 feet (290 m); cross it and continue straight ahead to pick up this trail again
0.83r  (Old termite tube at base of dead plant; small-flowered fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii var. menziesii)
0.83l33 Nealley three-awnAristida purpurea var. nealleyi3 / 34
0.83l  Sign: "California Riding and Hiking Trail"
0.83b34~hairy-podded pepper-grassLepidium lasiocarpum var. lasiocarpum99 / 930
0.83r35 desert plantainPlantago ovata99 / 934
0.84l36 narrowleaf ditaxisDitaxis lanceolata50 / 930
0.84r37 yellow-headTrichoptilium incisum20 / 45
0.84r38spcombseedPectocarya sp.20 / 2 
0.84l39~desert woolly-starEriastrum eremicum ssp. eremicum99 / 919
0.85r40 six-weeks three-awnAristida adscensionis5 / 116
0.85l41?baby annual like suncupCamissonia sp.? /  
 l42 fish-hook cactusMammillaria dioica10 / 922
0.85r43 rock hibiscusHibiscus denudatus10 / 526
0.85l44 pebble pincushionChaenactis carphoclinia var. carphoclinia99 / 912
 r  (beavertail cactus, Opuntia basilaris var. basilaris)
0.89l45 thick-leaved ground cherryPhysalis crassifolia20 / 922
0.90b46 downy daleaDalea mollissima3 / 15
0.90l47 brittle spineflowerChorizanthe brevicornu var. brevicornu5 / 130
0.90b  Enter huge field of Chaenactis carphoclinia
 r  (Pima rhatany, Krameria erecta; California trixis, Trixis californica var. californica)
0.93l48 California fagoniaFagonia laevis20 / 925
0.97r49spfivewing spiderlingBoerhavia intermedia99 / 910
1.02   Trail jogs left
1.02r50 California barrel cactusFerocactus cylindraceus+3 / 341
1.02r51~bracted blazing starMentzelia involucrata5 / 320
1.03l ~(red brome, Bromus madritensis ssp. rubens)
1.04r52 Mojave ragwortSenecio mohavensis50 / 918
1.04b53 small-flowered fiddleneckAmsinckia menziesii var. menziesii20 / 215
1.05l54 Engelmann's hedgehog cactusEchinocereus engelmannii10 / 924
1.05l  (woolly lipfern, Cheilanthes parryi)
1.06l55 jojobaSimmondsia chinensis20 / 926
1.07l56 desert spike-mossSelaginella eremophila50 / 915
1.07l57 woolly lipfernCheilanthes parryi30 / 927
1.07l58~intermediate larkspurDelphinium parishii ssp. subglobosum10 / 313
1.07r59 beavertail cactusOpuntia basilaris var. basilaris10 / 946
1.09r60 rattlesnake weedDaucus pusillus20 / 331
1.10   Jct. ridgeline between two side-drainages; trail soon veers to right of ridgeline; small peak behind trail on ridge has a good view and many Mentzelia. Trail now zig-zags up the slope, using fairly tight switchbacks.
1.13l  (San Felipe dogweed, Adenophyllum porophylloides)
1.13l61 Pima rhatanyKrameria erecta20 / 914
1.18l  (Parish's viguiera, Viguiera parishii)
1.19r62 desert lotusLotus rigidus20 / 918
1.20l63~bajada lupineLupinus concinnus5 / 218
1.20r64~white fiesta flowerPholistoma membranaceum50 / 315
1.21r65 threadstemPterostegia drymarioides2 / 145
1.21r66 San Felipe dogweedAdenophyllum porophylloides20 / 928
1.22b67 *red bromeBromus madritensis ssp. rubens30 / 984
1.22l68 California trixisTrixis californica var. californica10 / 929
1.23r69 Parish's viguieraViguiera parishii20 / 928
1.26r70 white rhatanyKrameria grayi2 / 237
1.26r  (sweetbush, Bebbia juncea var. aspera)
1.27l71 broom twinberryMenodora scoparia10 / 61
1.27r  (big galleta, Pleuraphis rigida)
1.27b72 Coulter's lyrepodLyrocarpa coulteri var. palmeri5 / 38
1.27r  (Vasey's sage, Salvia vaseyi; California buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium)
1.28l73~short-bannered coastal lotusLotus salsuginosus var. brevivexillus30 / 99
1.29l  Jct. steep use trail to fencepost and USGS Benchmark; trail elevation ~1330 feet (405 m)
1.30   Cross small drainage
1.31   Trail turns left 90°
1.32   Trail turns right 45°
1.34   Trail turns left 45°
1.34l74 *downy bromeBromus tectorum5 / 150
1.39   Switchback left
1.39r75 sweetbushBebbia juncea var. aspera20 / 953
1.40r76 California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium20 / 952
1.40r77 big galletaPleuraphis rigida5 / 343
1.41   Switchback right.
1.42r78~muillaMuilla maritima15 / 315
1.46l79 ayeniaAyenia compacta5 / 310
1.47r  (star-flowered bedstraw, Galium stellatum var. eremicum)
1.50r80~desert dudleyaDudleya saxosa ssp. aloides5 / 414
1.52l81 Arizona spurgeChamaesyce arizonica1 / 12
1.53r82 Vasey's sageSalvia vaseyi10 / 524
1.53r83 odoraPorophyllum gracile5 / 312
1.55r  Old termite tube at base of dead brittlebush, Encelia farinosa.
1.56r84 California juniperJuniperus californica+5 / 511
1.57   Trail forks, take right branch; trail now travels in a more open area; (left branch just goes to interestingly-looking rocks to left?)
1.60l  (spearleaf, Matelea parvifolia)
1.60r85 star-flowered bedstrawGalium stellatum var. eremicum4 / 417
1.60   Cross small drainage
1.61   Saddle; elevation ~1540 feet (470 m); jct. with old portion of trail that descends to S22 at milepost 16.0; curve right toward Culp Valley
1.65l  (California matchweed, Gutierrezia californica)
1.67r86 California matchweedGutierrezia californica20 / 538
1.69r87spheliotrope phacelia?Phacelia crenulata?1 / 1 
1.69   Switchback right.
1.70   Switchback left.
1.73   Switchback right.
1.75   Switchback left.
1.83r88?dead annual like silver puffs?1 / 1 
1.88   Switchback right; trail now heads a tiny bit north of due west for 0.16 miles
1.90r89spdesert needlegrass?Achnatherum speciosum??2 / 2 
1.91l90 *Bermuda grassCynodon dactylon+1 / 143
1.92r  (boundary goldenbush, Ericameria brachylepis)
1.94l91 Wright's buckwheatEriogonum wrightii var. nodosum20 / 420
2.12l92 red-gland spurgeChamaesyce melanadenia50 / 93
2.19b93 spearleafMatelea parvifolia2 / 15
2.26l  (Vasey's prickly-pear, Opuntia vaseyi)
2.34l  Check for different spike-moss
2.38r94 boundary goldenbushEricameria brachylepis10 / 511
2.45l95~apricot mallowSphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua2 / 220
2.46l96 desert needlegrassAchnatherum speciosum1 / 112
2.46r97 catclawAcacia greggii5 / 347
2.46l98 beady lipfernCheilanthes covillei20 / 313
2.63r  (white mugwort, Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. albula)
2.63   Local high point on trail at saddle
2.68   Local low point on trail
2.71l99 western bernardiaBernardia myricifolia2 / 26
2.71l  (lotebush, Ziziphus parryi var. parryi)
2.74b100 desert sageSalvia eremostachya10 / 36
2.75l101 lotebushZiziphus parryi var. parryi5 / 25
2.77b102 desert apricotPrunus fremontii10 / 214
2.77l103 rush blue grassPoa secunda ssp. juncifolia5 / 18
2.79r  (woolly Indian paintbrush, Castilleja foliolosa)
2.79b104 shrubby brickelliaBrickellia frutescens10 / 22
2.80l105 woolly Indian paintbrushCastilleja foliolosa1 / 111
2.81   Join wash of this major side drainage
2.82l106 Vasey's prickly-pearOpuntia vaseyi5 / 237
2.83l  Check for different seedling with robust leaves
2.85   Leave wash; trail is marked by cairns
2.85l107 linear-leaved stillingiaStillingia linearifolia1 / 112
2.92l108 narrowleaf goldenbushEricameria linearifolia1 / 111
2.93l109 California spear-leaved brickelliaBrickellia arguta var. arguta1 / 15
2.94   Local high point on trail
2.94   Local low point on trail; now in wash again
2.98   Leave wash to right
3.04r110~Mormon teaEphedra aspera2 / 27
3.10   Saddle; elevation ~2580 feet (785 m); plant guide now gives species abundance for remaining trail, and there may be more specimens of previous species.
3.26l111 white mugwortArtemisia ludoviciana ssp. albula20 / 911
3.31l112sspBorrego bedstrawGalium angustifolium ssp. borregoense10 / 91
3.33l113 short-winged deerweedLotus scoparius var. brevialatus30 / 936
3.57r114 desert mistletoePhoradendron californicum20 / 938
3.74l  (Mohave yucca, Yucca schidigera)
3.81l115 desert scrub oakQuercus cornelius-mulleri20 / 95
3.82l116~little-leaved chaparral beard-tongueKeckiella antirrhinoides var. microphylla2 / 23
3.82l117?unk asteraceae with "stillingia" leaf? /  
4.04r118 birch-leaf mountain-mahoganyCercocarpus betuloides var. betuloides10 / 935
4.05l119 golden yarrowEriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum5 / 181
4.05l120 Mohave yuccaYucca schidigera5 / 220
4.16r121 slender buckwheatEriogonum gracile var. incultum30 / 97
4.20l122 Anderson's desert-thornLycium andersonii2 / 110
4.29r123 sugar bushRhus ovata30 / 938
4.50l124 bigberry manzanitaArctostaphylos glauca2 / 214
4.50l125?mustard family like jewelflowerCaulanthus sp.?1 / 1 
4.52l126~white-flowering currantRibes indecorum1 / 1 
4.52r  Check for different Boerhavia
4.58 127spannual phaceliaPhacelia like minor5 / 1 
4.60r ?(wild-cucumber?, Marah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus?)
4.67b128sppincushion flowerChaenactis with 1-pinnate leaf10 / 1 
4.90   High point on trail; elevation 3520 feet (1073 m)
5.31 129?unknown annual? /  
5.61 130spdaturaDatura sp.1 / 1 
5.66l131 papillate dodderCuscuta californica var. papillosa5 / 112
5.69 132 rattlesnake weedChamaesyce albomarginata10 / 214
5.70l133 *ripgut bromeBromus diandrus1 / 167
5.70l134~coyote melonCucurbita palmata1 / 16
5.70 135sspslender wreathplantStephanomeria exigua ssp. exigua20 / 422
5.70   End guide in Culp Valley at shaded sign mounted on a rock pillar: "Chaparral ... and the cycle of fire", almost next to the Montezuma Highway, S22; elevation 3330 feet (1015 m)

Comments On Specific Species

Hyptis emoryi. We were certain that this plant was dead as a doornail in 2005-2006; its main stems were dead, and there were no young shoots at its base as late as February 2006. To our complete shock, this plant was alive in January 2010, with a number of young stems that were even blooming.

Ferocactus cylindraceus. The varieties are not recognized in the Flora of North America treatment since they are not consistently distinguishable.

Juniperus californica. There are quite a few more junipers above the location of the first specimen, although most are off-trail. Interestingly, about half of them were dead in December 2005, with some having died recently enough to still have their dead leaves intact. It looks like these specimens are the outpost toward lower elevation of this species, with some past wetter years allowing them to grow at these lower elevations, but recent drier years causing the lower-elevation specimens to die out.

Cynodon dactylon. The single plant seen in December 2005 was weeded out.

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Copyright © 2005-2010 by Tom Chester, Wayne Armstrong, Mike Crouse, Kay Madore and Vince Balch
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Last update: 22 January 2010.